The Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) has called for greater accountability from the ATO
in light of the ongoing technology issues that have significantly impacted accountants and
small businesses across Australia.

“The IPA has constantly heard the plea of our members who have suffered ongoing IT
issues with the ATO,” said IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway.

“We know that the ATO is doing whatever it can to rectify the failing functionality of its IT
systems but apologies do not undo the pain that it is inflicting.

“While some of our members have called for compensation, we are realistic in our
expectations. However, it should be recognised that accountants and tax agents have worn
the brunt of this issue over many years.

“Whilst clients of tax practitioners are generally not disadvantaged, very little concessions
are granted to the tax practitioners themselves.

“To give context to the significance of this issue, 74 per cent of taxpayers go to a tax agent
to look after their affairs and 95 per cent for businesses. Consequently, our members do the heavy lifting and are reliant on the ATO systems to service their clients.

“While the ATO is pursuing a digital by default strategy, stakeholders need systems available 24/7.

“As a result of the ongoing system issues, our members have experienced reputational
damage with their clients along with loss of productivity. These factors play a big part in the status of their mental health and wellbeing.

“When critical systems go down, client appointments get cancelled, support staff lay idle and backlogs start piling up. When there is a major outage, everything grinds to a halt.

“We believe there should be a service commitment from the ATO; an agreement where there are specified and agreed service levels and if those service levels are not met, penalties should apply. This would be akin to arrangements that operate in the commercial world with critical service providers.

“Our members are subjected to key performance benchmarks when it comes to lodgements
so it is not unreasonable to ask that the ATO has its own benchmark to improve
accountability around IT service delivery,” said Mr Conway.